The accessibility to automation is changing – Largely due to collaborative solutions
The popularity and ease of use of Cobots in recent years has greatly expanded the accessibility to automation for small and medium sized enterprises. Additionally, our collaborative customers are made up of both manufacturers who are automating for the first time, and also those who are already heavy users of industrial robots.
With the now widespread use of collaborative solutions in all kind of plants, including the small to medium sized enterprises, the field of collaborative gripping is further expanding to answer the needs of different kinds of applications while still maintaining the highest safety levels.
A lot of factors come into play when deciding to automate, especially when thinking of selecting collaborative automation. In the case of HRC, the immerging factors include: rapidly rising health costs, workplace injury prevention, a predicted reduction of people in production areas due to retirement, issues such as workplace ergonomics, health care, and the availability of skilled personnel. All of these elements are rapidly growing in importance, and the gripping industry together with the robotics industry is rising to meet these demands.
The new EGL-C Co-act gripper from SCHUNK addresses these demands to go beyond its mere gripping function: An ergonomic workplace facilitates the work and demonstrably protects the employees’ health. The concept of the HRC robot, functioning as an ergonomic assistant has become reality for the first time using an EGL-C Co-act gripper, and is a real benefit in terms of productivity and efficiency. The individual strengths of humans and robots can be combined: Physically demanding, monotonous, and non-value-creating portions of work are done by assistance robots equipped with the SCHUNK EGL-C Co-act gripper, and humans are primarily taking care of complex, sensory challenging, and quality-decisive tasks that would be difficult to automate.
The unique benefit of the EGL-C Co-act gripper is that it surpasses the typical force-limited 140 N used by most collaborative grippers today in accordance with ISO/TS 15066. During operation of the gripper, force is limited to <140 N while the fingers are in motion. However, when the gripper fingers are within a 4 mm distance of gripping the targeted workpiece, the force can be increased up to 450N. The 4 mm distance is chosen to restrict any opportunity for human operator to place their hand between the workpiece and the gripper finger while the forces are fully exerted. Integrated force sensors in the gripper base jaws continually monitor for unexpected resistance applied to the gripper fingers while they are in motion.
With this integrated, patent-pending safety algorithm, the potential in human-robot collaboration for handling weights well beyond small parts assembly is realized. In cases using form-fitting gripping fingers, the EGL-C now enables cobots to more easily handle workpieces up to 8 kg safely in close proximity to their human coworkers. Color coded LEDs integrated into the body of the EGL-C ensure intuitive collaboration between robot and human.
Additional safety functions of the EGL-C Co-act gripper include a safe switch-off, a safe brake control, a safe operating system architecture, a safe movement and speed control.
The powerful 85 mm stroke EGL-C gripper comes completely preassembled and is available with matching interfaces for HRC robots such as FANUC, Universal Robots, Yaskawa, KUKA and NACHI. A simple and fast commissioning is possible with almost any cobot on the market. A commissioning assistant simplifies programming, and a diagnostic interface allows access to the main process and status data throughout operation. The EGL-C can optionally be controlled and adjusted via PROFINET, EtherCAT or EtherNet/IP.